Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The smallest things hit the hardest

This weekend, Sarah and I went to a birthday party for a one year old. The one year old's dad is one of Gery's friends from school - probably elementary school, honestly - and they were sweet enough to invite us. As I watched this guy be an awesome dad, and watched another one of Gery's oldest friends be an awesome dad to his two year old, I thought that Sarah got cheated. Gery got cheated. These friends got cheated. They all should have been awesome dads together, doing regular things with their kids, grilling at birthday parties and having a beer together. And then I had to leave the party before I cried in front of people.
Today I took Sarah to Kindergarten orientation. I took her to daycare, went to work for a few hours, and went back and picked her up to go over to the school. I planned to go back to work. That didn't happen.

She is more than ready academically. She's more than ready socially, with one exception - the obvious. Sometimes she cries when she separates from me. That never happened before Gery died, and I'm pretty sure it's a direct correlation. She did not cry today. In fact, when her teacher called her name, she jumped up and ran to the front of the room and got in line with her classmates, and walked out to go to her classroom without a second look at me. I'm proud. It seems like THAT should be a moment that makes me tear up, but really, that's what I want for her. The ability to go forward into a sort of unknown situation and be cheerful about it.

All of orientation was fine. I met her teacher afterward, introduced myself, said that Sarah was very excited for school and that I needed her to know that Sarah's dad had died several months ago. That Sarah has bad days, and on those days, if she asks for me, I'd appreciate a call or an email letting me know. All fine. I didn't cry, my voice didn't crack, I didn't even feel that sick feeling that comes sometimes.

But then as we were getting in the car, Sarah said her stomach hurt. Terribly. Awfully. So bad that she thought I should probably call work and ask to stay home all afternoon, and that I should probably take her to lunch to make it feel better. Then, she very quietly asked me to take her to her Daddy's grave. She needed to talk to him. So I took her to lunch, and then we went to his grave. She hopped out of the car and said, "Daddy, I went to your school today. My teacher knew you when you were kids together. She said you were funny. I miss you and love you!" and she hopped back in the car.

On the way home, she asked me why all the other graves have stones and why Daddy's grass is so green. I explained that his grass is green because it's newer than the other grass, and that I haven't gotten his stone yet because I don't know what to do about it. She wanted to know what goes on the stone, and I said, "His name, the day he was born, and the day he died," so then she wanted to know what day he died. Then she asked what time. And then she wanted to know how I knew what time it was, and I said, "Because I was there with him, baby. Grandma and I held his hands, and Aunt Megan and Grandpap were there too." Her last question is the one that did me in. Usually I can get through and cry later, but this one finished me off. "Did you want to be there?" and I said, "There's nowhere else I could have been."